Bare Bones Bology 363 – Community Revisited I

“Community” is a term that we fling around, along with “educating women” and “compassion,” and “overpopulation” — growth or degrowth — and “patriotism,” “rule of law,” as though any one of these social “solutions” might save us from our own excess.

 

Community is not so simple as that. Neither are any of those other world views, but I want to talk about community, because each world view gives rise to communities, each of which rallies around the flag of a common world view.

 

A community is a system. A naturally evolved system (each community, of course, being uniquely individual in some ways, and similar to all such systems in other ways). Community is probably our best answer to most of our biggest problems, but it is not a simple answer to anything.

 

Please read that sentence again and do not accuse me of “dumping on” anything. I do not adhere to the corposystem ethic that tells us that it is necessary to “win” anything (thus creating losers) in order to accomplish our goals. What I want is that we should consider ALL the parameters, especially the down side of everything we choose to do, so that we have a likelihood of long-term success.

 

This is why I spend so much of my activism energy in pointing out downsides. I hope to help save the communities that I think have the most power to carry us    successfully over this final threshold of human survival on the Living Earth. That is a definition of wise compassion. Wise, nonviolent compassion toward all of humanity. Mostly, humanity is merely offended by my compassionate efforts. However, that is not my problem. I do as I say, which is to give at least as much attention to the downsides of our actions as to the up sides. I do not lie about factual reality.

 

So, in my opinion, community is the most important special quality of humankind, after our super brain and our ability to share information. Humankind is characterized by its need for community, and I think it is instinctive, that is inherited in the DNA, a physical need, and so it is well worth discussing the upsides and the downsides of community itself, as a universal factual reality.

 

Speaking up-side and down-side, both together, what do we know about communities as naturally evolved systems? Naturally evolved, complex adaptive systems.

 

A system is a group of things (nodes), connected by processes/actions/energy/information that I will refer to as links. The links connect the nodes, and all work together to generate and sustain some special quality that has value to their environment. The basic function of a naturally evolved system is to sustain itself.

 

Importantly, we find that there is generally no center to a system. Often or usually there is a core of dense interactions, surrounded by a “halo” of peripheral interactions (Seth Lloyd – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffAQJ40APcI), but not one specific central node (thing). This means there usually is nobody to blame when the system goes off balance or when it cannot sustain its balance among the other systems. This is frustrating, because there is no individual entity that can “fix” it for us. We must take care of ourselves, together, collaboratively, and in my opinion that is the function of our communities, and one way our communities do this for us is to conform themselves to the reality of Life as it is on Earth at any given time and place.

 

If we humans have a problem (indeed we do) then it is very important that we analyze the underlying flow of information that informs and sustains the system. If the “problem” has a center or if it does not have a center, that makes a difference in how we respond to the problem. A systemic problem, for example might be a failure of communication within the system or between systems.

 

Instead of a center, or a neat hierarchy, systems, at least naturally evolved systems – we can think of the internet as an example — they have millions of links and nodes, all joined in intricate self-sustaining patterns by information that flows between and among them in the form of behaviors (including rules of operation), processes and sustaining interactions between themselves and their environments.

 

We who are focused on the common welfare, we who have a deep desire to bring healing to others, we often jump on one or other bandwagon/worldview, system of perceiving the world, such as those mentioned above (compassion, war, community, population, etc.) each of which consists of a system – a world view that is supported by its catchy memes. We believe in the systems because they represent our worldviews and we express them using appropriate memes, because the memes also make good sense. They do. The memes are logical within, and reinforce, the world view of the systems they represent, in the same way that a flag, or a protest sign, represents its accompanying world view.

 

The logic within the world views of activists working around each of these focused systems (compassion, Christianity, Islamic or Christian fundamentalism, technology), the logic does make good common sense within the system, and that logic expresses itself, in part, in memes. Thus each meme carries with it the world view from which it grew, and the logic is clear to the people who were raised in that system. When we share the memes among ourselves, we don’t have to think. Not about what the words actually say or imply in our time and place. What we do think about is the reality of the things we care about. And we can feel good about ourselves among our companions, all of whom understand the things we care about.

For all these reasons, memes are very useful for building community around conditions as they were, and they are more or less biologically designed to do just that. However, conditions are not always as they were. The difficulty arises when the conditions of our environment change. Then we must call upon our special human brain – the analytical part of it – for some deep thinking about the things we care about. Otherwise, the memes, flags and worldviews of the past may not lead us toward a positive future. Positive in this context refers to behaviors that are beneficial to us.

 

For example, the concept of growth, and in fact our entire political system, were built in a time of plenty when there were plenty of resources to accomplish the growth. This is no longer true. The Earth can no long supply resources for human growth without damaging its resource base, with the result that now, when we try to grow, the only way to do it is by “eating the seed corn.” Perhaps we can think of our current problems as though the Earth were trying to rid itself of the communities of belief that are no longer positively contributing to the whole and replace them with other human or nonhuman communities that can contribute to the welfare of the Life of Earth.

All human communities have their bases in historic and biological facts. Facts are, by definition, realities that humans cannot change.

 

We cannot just decide one day that we don’t like the community we are in and change the facts around to make it different. We might move to a different community, or do something that changes ourselves, but we can’t change facts, neither facts of history nor the laws of physics, mathematics and biology. Our effort to eliminate what was and “start over again” to make it better, can’t possibly work effectively in the short term, because all those thousands and millions of links and nodes that have already evolved – they all work together to sustain the system as it is now, or was yesterday.

 

Communities evolve, like any naturally evolved system, from the causes and effects of whatever happened before, and the natural laws that generate and maintain all naturally evolving systems. Systems can be modified, but they only “start over” after the crash, and even then, the crash itself becomes a factual part of the history of that community that cannot be changed.   A negative fact.

 

And yet, nearly every human community is trying to grow a future for the children and grandchildren “unto the seventh (or seven hundredth) generation to come.” (Oren Lyons http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/OrenLyons_with_Bill_Moyers-AccountabilityB.mp3).

 

That task requires more than a bandwagon and a catchy meme. It requires deep consideration of the facts that we cannot change, and a broad understanding of what we can change, and especially it requires a mature analysis of the potential down side as well as the up side of whatever we do to bring about the change.

 

In a system, because it is a system:

  1. Everything is connected to everything else (more or less strongly). Every “thing” is a node, or a connecting-place in the system. Your computer, for example, can be thought of as a node in the internet.

 

A community is also a system. You are a node, a connecting place, within your community(s). You are linked to the other parts of your community by information transfer. Information is transferred by words, images, stories, body language, and also by all of our behaviors including the tools we use, processes, smells and all the things that we do.

 

  1. Every communication (transfer of information) is a link between your computer and (more or less) every other node in the internet.

 

All of your behaviors (etc.) are links between you and the other systems and nodes in your enviroment. Your environment consists of other systems and nodes.

 

  1. Every communication that impacts the system has both good and bad results. Every good communication from your computer is bad for some node(s) out in cyberspace.

 

To quote Joseph Campbell, “everything we do is bad for somebody.” (Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, PBS, DVD)

 

Every good deed that we do also has also a downside. Every glass is BOTH half full AND half empty, and if we ignore the empty half, either half, we are asking for trouble, because the more we understand the consequences of our behaviors, the better able we are to survive.

 

Survival must be one of the major functions of community, or we humans would not always find a way to band together in naturally evolved communities that help us to survive. Culture. Common values for the common welfare. Cultures of fear, cultures of hatred, cultures of compassion. These arise from the facts of life: 1 -The facts that are studied by physicists, mathematicians and biologists that determine how energy and the transfer of information drive community; and 2 – the facts of history. Facts that we cannot change. Facts to which we must adapt or die.

For humans, our cultures, our communities, our religions, our stories, are the memory-base of our facts of Life. We are designed to physically implant these cultural memories into the nodes and links (neurons and synapses and neurotransmitters) of our brains (Eagleman, 2015), and they stay there, or not, depending on our lifetime experiences, until we raise up our babies whose blank little brains (blank except for their genetic legacy of instincts) incorporate the same information and carry it on to the following generation.

 

When our environments change dramatically, we experience culture shock, and whether this is a good or a bad experience, it takes about a year to begin successfully to adjust our worldview and our behaviors (rearrange the links) to the new environmental realities. A year to inscribe a new logic into our brains so that we can operate with a degree of comfort in the new or changed environment. Physically inscribe it into the links and nodes of our brains.

 

Our environment molds us metaphorically like the proverbial lump of clay, or the blank slate. We start out with essentially only instincts, implanted by our common human physical evolution. We end up with opinions, woven inseparably among the instincts and directing our behaviors, which are our links with our environments. Our environments are physically, literally the other half of what we are. Both our birthright world view and its continuing change throughout our lives.

 

And our culture of fear, or hate, or compassion – or a wisdom that recognizes the reality of all these things – that fact-based history is passed on to the next generation, automatically, by the system that is us, it grows and is maintained within our communities, within the whole of Life.

 

And our worldview determines our behaviors, and our behaviors are the links between ourselves and the other naturally evolved systems of Life.

 

Our ideal communities consist of people who have the same cultural stories as each other.

These are the stories that explain the logic of our environment(s). Stories of fear, stories of hatred, stories of compassion. If I had such a community, it would understand me, help to generate my belief systems, empower my view of good and evil and my self-image, and support me to the grave.

 

The fact that you and I do not have those things is nobody’s fault, and we can be immensely grateful to the people who can see these gaps in our lives and try to fill them. The fact that they cannot fully succeed, that nearly all of us will lack the ideal community, is nobody’s fault. It is a function of our style and time in Life, that we live in a time of rapid change that is the physical and biological result primarily of five or six (more or less) millennia of human overpopulation that has unbalanced us and the millions, probably billions of other systems that make up the Life of Earth, and the fact that we chose to respond to the warnings given to us by the various biological Limiting Factors that stood in the way of our further overgrowth by trying to dominate our own other half, our environment, rather than align our communities with it.

 

And so we have been at war with ourselves for all these millennia, and that cannot go on forever, because once we choose war we have rejected the other possibility, which is collaborative, win-win relationships.

 

Now is the time that we must choose again, and our choices now are neither romantic nor desirable.

 

We can not change our instincts, but we can change our opinions, and our opinions direct our behaviors, with which we communicate with our environments. We are capable of saving ourselves by changing ourselves, because our behaviors arise from our opinions and we are all capable of wisdom if that is the path we choose.

 

Change always generates crises, and in a time of crisis wise choices are even more important. We live in a very complex and rapidly changing environment. In times of rapid change, the environment (our other half) throws up multiple and variable new systems. This response to change is automatic; it always happens in times of overpopulation because it is part of the interacting natural laws that we cannot change.

 

You probably will not find this reality discussed in our media, but it is primarily for this reason, that overpopulation is a deep threat to the Life of the whole complex of systems that make up the Life of Earth.

 

That is how evolution works, automatically. It is one of the Laws of Life that we cannot change, and (for those who doubt) it is easy to see it happening in the human communities around us, composed as they are now of peoples whose stories (facts of history) are so different from each other.

How we choose to use these differences will determine the future of humans as components of the Life of Earth. Because the Life of Earth now is very different from even our parents’ time, our communities will have to change. What, then are our options?

 

  1. We cannot change the facts of Life. We can use the facts of Life to make tools and technologies that function in the real world, but we cannot use our tools and technologies to change the facts of Life because that is not what tools are able to do.

 

  1. We cannot change history. No matter how hard our would-be political conquerors try to manipulate the information that is available in the media – in our textbooks and our television – they cannot change the “story” of fear or hatred or compassion that is written in the synapses and neurons of humankind, in the form of our natal worldviews, by our personal biological history(s).
  2. We can no longer change our environments without destroying our environments by cutting the links that evolved, were created over billions of years, among and between our ancestors and their environments. Communications, remember, include all of our behaviors, and our technologies are our behaviors, amplified. We can no longer make positive changes in our environments in this way because we have surpassed all but the final Limiting Factor that could have prevented the ultimate systemic catastrophe.

 

To any naturally evolved system, the ultimate catastrophe is — the system crashes and starts again, the complex interactions among the nodes and links that held it together as a functioning whole are bent and broken and dissolved, and despite the lengths that a system will go to save itself, when it no longer can do so, the result is predictably a resounding crash and the naturally evolved system falls apart and starts over again from wherever it began the first time. The Life of Earth began with living cells.

 

The Life of Earth grew over the space of four or five billion years, more or less, from cells, by creating flexible links of energy and information within their abiotic environments. These links gave rise to new kinds of cells, communities of cells within their environments, and yet more intricate links of energy and information between and among biological communities (organisms, ecosystems and the like) within the environments which, by that time, consisted of both abiotic and biotic other systems. All are held together by a miracle of collaborative links and nodes that direct the flow of energy and information throughout the whole.

 

Now, today, the balance between us and the nodes and links of the living Earth (that is the balance between our needs and available resources that are provided by our environments) – now that balance is so near to the edge of crashing that anything we do – any behavior or communication of information between us and our environments – is likely to “tip the boat.” This    means our technologies can no longer save us. They certainly could tip us over the edge of system collapse, and this is already happening. That’s what climate change is about.   We try to save ourselves using our science and our technologies, but cannot save ourselves using tools unless we use the tools to conform ourselves to the science.   Tools cannot change facts of Life.

 

We can use the facts of Life to make tools and technologies that function in the real world, but we cannot use our tools and technologies to change the facts of Life.

 

There are no more Limiting Factors. We are on the threshold now of collapse.

What, then, what can we do to save our future unto the seventh generation?

 

What we can do is to stop trying to control the systems and facts of Life over which we do NOT have any real control, and begin to control ourselves in ways that are Life affirming. Generate win-win collaborations between ourselves and the reality of the Creation as it is now. That is, listen to, share, discuss, control and integrate our own world views so that our effort is not to get someone else to save us, nor to blame something for not saving us, nor to attack the systems that are our other half and are actually here to warn us of problems that are arising within and among the systems of Life — but our effort – our entire effort – is to use our knowledge of the facts of Life elucidated by our basic science and mathematics (not technology, which we now are using in an effort to dominate the indomitable), joined with our wisdom traditions that have grown up around the facts of History and humanity, to collaborate with the other systems of life in our communal desire to empower the future of humanity WITHIN the whole of Life of Earth.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

The podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_363_-_Community_Revisited.mp3

© 2017, Lynn Lamoreux and Photos by Lynn

Advertisements

Bare Bones Biology 362 – Exciting

Science is the study of the laws of nature using the scientific method.

Technology is making tools. Whether or not using the scientific method, technology is not asking how nature functions, it is making tools to serve the God of Technology.

 

I happen to know this because I worked very hard throughout my scientific career to sidestep the technologies that have funded most of our research within the corposystem. It was not easy.

 

Now, I am back in the canyon again because I pushed the safe boundaries of my health for about the past week and a half, by emerging into the world of people, pollution, modern computers, and my annual trip to Los Alamos for Fr. John Dear’s Sackcloth and Ashes vigil. I took some pictures for me and for the cause, stayed overnight in a parking lot in Los Alamos (because I can no longer physically tolerate the toxic chemicals that our public buildings are required to slather about), came home to the village and got sicker than I have been since leaving Texas in May, and scarpered down to the canyon ASAP with prayers of thanks that I have a safe place to go to in this modern world that we proudly refer to as the Epoch of Man.

abqcenterforpeaceandjustice.org

 

Chris Martenson (Crash Course) says this is an exceedingly exciting time to be alive. I posted that video on my Facebook, because he is a smart man who understands the biology of earth, but I’ve heard that many times before. Well, I reckon it’s true, because just being alive is exciting, and I am astonished that I’ve been privileged to understand as much as I do about the miracle of Life, and to share as much of it as anyone will listen to. I’m excited to be witnessing the creepingly slow education of the uninformed members of our corposystem as they come to realize their denial will not make it go away – will not change the appalling mess we have made of our humanity, and the natural consequences of our own behaviors that we now face. And thankful that I know what to expect and am grateful for my safe place.

 

This morning the New York Times reported – as though it were a big surprise — that a huge majority of climate scientists have confirmed the fact that we are experiencing climate change. I have the document, but it’s about 500 pages and I had to change computers, so have not yet read it. Let me know if you want a copy of the PDF. I’ll try to post it also to my FB page.

I do not doubt the integrity of this document because a large group of top level basic scientists conducted the study. They understand how it works, the climate, but it doesn’t take a real basic scientist to understand the basic problem. It’s all about the balance between resources and consumers. If we have not enough resources, then we have not enough. Period. What happens after that, I think our president said today, “We don’t know very much about it.” He said this at about the same time that he eliminated programs intended to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

Indeed we don’t. Not even the real climate scientists know very much about it. Nobody in their right mind, knowing how it works, would do the experiment, and of course nobody in recent years would pay for the smaller kinds of experiments that could tell us more about what happens beyond climate change in an overpopulation event.

 

The New York Times makes like this is big news, but climate scientists have tried to tell us about this progressing danger every five years or so, often in spite of threats to their own jobs, and before them basic biologists for about 200 years. But I think the vast majority of the public believes these reports to be promoting some technology (not science), so they don’t listen anyhow and the clock winds down and the world dies by feet and yards instead of only inches, because climate change is not technology and our understanding of it is good basic science. Climate change cannot be prevented or cured by any technology unless that technology is focused on the cause of the problem.

 

But on the same day, that is today, PostCarbon Institute has reported the same truth — that the vast majority of the public probably believes our technology will save us. I have reposted their good little post to my FaceBook page.

 

They are wrong, those who put their faith in technology – any technology now that we have waited so late — any technology that is not directed at the root cause of the problem will be unable to “save” us. And the root cause is, of course, that the whole earth has no longer enough resources to feed the populations.

 

We have overgrazed the earth to the extent that we are killing the species that generate our viable climate and our food, and yet we propose to resolve this problem by killing off more species. Killing the species that create our biosystems, so that we can plant foodcrops that destroy the biosystems. This does not require a scientific explanation.

 

We are like a bag-a-bones horse I once saw standing in a pasture of weeds that he could not eat, while the people drove by in their new cars and sputtering about how could anyone do that to such a pitiful victim.

 

Also this week, technologies for helping the millions of people who have not enough to eat, who crave access to birth control to save their families, these American dollars have been taken away from the need and dedicated to we know not what (as reported by Pathfinder.org). There is no way to make the earth produce more food than it can produce, and now we are eating up the “seed corn.” And making babies to come into a world that has no way to nurture them. Sacrifices to the false God of Technology.

 

We are dying on our feet and praying to the god of technologies to save us – the same technologies that destroyed our resources in the first place. There is no god of technologies. Technologies are not God power or science power, they are human power — the same human power that we could have used to grow a reasonably comfortable human presence on a vibrantly healthy planet Earth, but chose instead to use it to grow money.

MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA

 

And I spent last night in my little travel trailer, an island of warm and dry between the crack, crash and rumble of lightning and thunder above and the splash and ripple of growing rivulets in the stream bed below – wondering how big of a flash flood might come rushing down our canyon. Or not. And awoke this morning healthy. Watching a wispy little cloud explore the nooks and crannies of our canyon wall. One night away from the toxic chemicals that now permeate our earth – overnight healthy with no pills — only clean air to breath.

 

Clean, healthy and alone, for the sake of two more children who will not suffer what we know is coming, because they have never existed.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.

 

© 2017, Photos by Lynn